Recently someone on Fetlife in the Minnesota kink scene posted a proposed draft of advice for how newbies should attend a munch. In the kink world a munch is a casual public gathering of kinky people for conversation and socialization. It usually takes place in a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar. Generally they are open to anyone and are often the first thing new people do when entering the kinky scene because they are fairly non-threatening and have a very low bar of entry.
When discussing the most conservative level of expected attire the proposed advice was the following (emphasis mine):
“Conservative dress that won’t attract unwanted attention from the vanillas. This means no stereotypical fetish or dungeonesque clothing or handcuffs. Any visible collar should pass as jewelry. You can cover a collar with a scarf or perhaps a turtleneck. No Fetishwear. No latex clothing. Some leather clothing may be okay as long as you aren’t covered from head to toe. We don’t also want it to look like a biker convention. No corsets worn on the outside. No littles wear. No ageplay clothing. No visible diapers. No pony play costumes. No puppy play costumes. No furry costumes, etc. No t-shirts with offensive or suggestive slogans. No Ballet Boots. In the case of crossdressers, if you don’t pass, don’t crossdress. Don’t showup in a sequined dress looking like a flamboyant glammed up drag queen. In the case of genderfluid, genderqueer, and transgender people, do your best to pass. The point is for everyone to blend in as best they can. This is NOT the place for social protest.“
What followed was a heated discussion. Objections to the idea that gender expression is equivalent to fetish attire were voiced. The OP and others claimed that anyone seen with obviously transgender people would risk being fired from their jobs. Heated defenses of trans* people and our rights to public spaces were voiced, including one from my friend James:
“I am appalled that you would label this post as a guide for people new to kink and include such virulent, hateful transphobia as if that attitude was not only acceptable but encouraged in your community. Being trans is not being kinky – it is simply being. People who identify as trans aren’t coming to your precious munches in kink attire, they are simply trying to live day-to-day life. What, are the trans members of the community supposed to hide their faces in shame and stay out of the public? How is a trans person supposed to meet the community in a non-play environment? Or do trans people just not matter enough to particularly care about them?”
Predictably, tone trolls abounded and whines that peoples free speech was being impinged upon appeared. The discussion itself hasn’t come to any kind of resolution (it’s only been up for a few days) but it’s certain that the OP will not change their opinion and there are definitely others in the MN community who would rather avoid going to munches at all than be seen in public with someone different from themselves.
Other LGB folks are silenced in this way as well. When a question was asked about same-gender couples holding hands at a munch the response was that public displays of affection are always unacceptable at munches – a clearly untrue statement that no one would EVER put onto a heterosexual couple, but is likely to be applied to a queer one.
The fear of the cisgender heterosexual kinkster is that someone, usually someone from work, school, or family, would see them with “weird” people out in public and suddenly realize this obviously means they must be a big pervert. This fear, the idea of not seeming “normal” is terrifying. They claim they could loose their jobs, spouses, children. Being even seen with us has the chance of taking away their enormous privilege.
Worse, they believe we have a responsibility to protect that privilege. In order for them to maintain their comfort and ability to keep jobs (jobs we could never get) we must appear normal or not show up. In order for them to have access to kinky communities without risk the rest of us – the queers, the trans* people, and the weirdos with facial piercings and green hair – need to change ourselves or stay home. They want privileged access to kinky spaces just like they have privileged access to everything else.
FUCK THAT. A trans* kinkster has no responsibility to be someone they are not just to protect the next person who walks through the door from the tiny chance that they might have to explain why they’re at the same coffee shop table with a man in a skirt. Every day that we leave the house we have to explain ourselves. Cisgender newbie? Welcome to our fucking world. That’s the way we’re treated all of the time.
Don’t want to be seen with the huge diversity of people in the kinky world? Don’t show up. We don’t want you.